The smoke has been so thick it’s felt like fog.
The wind has been barreling through like an invading army.
The national news has felt stranger every day, and the news from friends and family has had its own strains to bear.
The way this year is going … I swear I can hear the voice of Steve Harvey.
I promise, I haven’t lost my mind after too much homebound exposure to the Game Show Network. And yes, I know the reigning joke on the internet is that 2020 has been a real-life “Jumanji,” with each month revealing a new and more dangerous level to the living game.
But if this year hasn’t been “Family Feud” in action, then what is it?
I’m sure you remember the setup. You have families scrambling against each other for what often turns out to be an incredibly small reward. You have heat-of-the-moment guesses that often produce groans or contagious laughter. And most of all, you have The Board.
STEVE HARVEY: “100 people surveyed, top five answers on the board. Name the next disaster that’s coming down the pike in 2020.”
CONTESTANT: (Buzzer slam) “Invasion by killer clowns!”
STEVE HARVEY: “Send in the clowns!”
SURVEY BOARD: “Bing!!!” (Reveals no. 1 answer)
What’s made Family Feud stand out over the years is that it’s a game of anticipating trends. Being a master of trivia doesn’t help. You don’t have to be a good speller, or willing to take on a bizarre dare, or even be blindly lucky. All you have to do is predict what’s likely to be up there, even if it’s completely at odds with what you’d expect.
If you’re good at putting yourself into someone else’s shoes, it can be easy to score big. If you’re not, it can seem almost bizarrely random. And either way, the only way to survive is to try to guess what’s coming next.
Yeah, this is sounding more familiar by the minute.
We anticipate what our neighbors might need and try to help. We think about what our neighbors might do and plan accordingly. (“A restaurant on a holiday weekend? Maaaybe not.”) And as the answers get revealed one by one, we’re often guessing as best as we can to try to keep up, wondering “how many people expected this?”
Maybe that’s why it sometime feels a little hopeless – like we’re reacting to events instead of making choices.
And that’s why I’m encouraged by at least one turn of events in “2020: The Home Edition.”
Namely, the massive voter turnout we’ve started to see, this early in.
As of Friday, Colorado’s early voter turnout was 24 times what it had been in 2016. Twenty-four times! And we haven’t been unique – across the country, folks have been lining up to cast a ballot and make a choice.
That’s not the act of a hopeless population.
People can turn out to vote when they’re inspired. Or when they’re angry. Or when they see a job that needs to be done or a change that needs to be made. There are a hundred different motives you can ascribe to a large turnout, but not one of them is “despair.”
Because voting, by its nature, is a fundamentally hopeful act.
To vote is to say “I can change what’s on the board.”
For once, a piece of 2020 is in our own hands.
I know. It’s a small piece. But small pieces accumulate. And if enough of us have the confidence to make our voices heard – to be a part of the outcome instead of just waiting for it to happen – we can put our own answer up to the times we’re facing.
Together, we can make the game our own. For all of us.